I can’t sit at the dining table
& listen to the morning swarm
of words buzzing around my hair
hovering not entering my ears
(this tablecloth of hardened rice
& wide-angled magenta lotus flowers).
To come home is to steam tradition
& I admit love is a dry chunk of it.
But my patience does not endure.
The turkey in the oven has been
dressed with salt & oil since 3 A.M.
Soon we will eat our wounds.
This Old Table Means So Much to You
Tripod mahogany plate. The ceiling
leaks– nowhere for rain. The cat’s self-
cleaning beside treble clef legs. The robot
vacuum learns floor secrets below.
Purple grape stems. Vent dust
from the void. I left you a voicemail
on a no outlet road. I read a few pages
tonight. Shower steam dissipates
slowly into starlight.
First were fruits drifting down like feathers,
their sugar shells & caramel centers gooey.
When the fruits stopped fruiting, she scraped
off the tree’s gingerbread bark using flint
as a spatula. Next gone were leaves–
the sweet ones– but the branches chewed
like celery so were spat out. Feet swollen,
hands rugburn red, she climbed all
night, eating, the tree only sour leaves
& skeleton, exposed heart beating
before a death between teeth, strawberry ice
cream gushing past the mauve, ravenous moon.
surf another wave
of cyclical maturation
I am who I am, you
are who you are–
static trust– your white
noise a velcro
loosening of being
unhinged– I leave cities
faster than lovers, cruise
the interstate in blindfolds
before rumble strip sobers
me beyond the paved path
James Croal Jackson (he/him/his) is a Filipino-American poet. He has two chapbooks, Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, forthcoming 2021) and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), with recent poems in White Wall Review, Subnivean, and Thin Air. He edits The Mantle Poetry (themantlepoetry.com) from Pittsburgh, PA. (jamescroaljackson.com)